Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Peter Agre to Explore Running for US Senate

Would it hurt to have a second smart senator from Minnesota?

From Today's Star-Tribune

Chemist knows a Senate run takes a lot more than smarts

Is there room for brilliance in the United States Senate?

By Doug Grow, Star Tribune

May 21, 2007 – 8:57 PM

Though a graduate of Minneapolis schools -- Roosevelt High and Augsburg College -- it's been years since he's actually called Minnesota home. Secondly, though he has a nice job -- the physician is vice chancellor for science and technology at Duke University's School of Medicine -- he doesn't have access to the amount of money needed to play contemporary politics.

So why's he considering a campaign?

"We live in desperate times," said Agre, citing problems ranging from the health care crisis to the lack of support for public education to the ever-increasing mess in the Middle East.

Agre, 58, doesn't think his address problem is a big one. After all, Al Franken, a DFL Senate candidate, also hasn't had a Minnesota residence until recently.

"I've always been a Minnesotan," Agre said. "Your paper recently had a story with the headline, 'Bob Dylan, Still One of Us.' That's me." He added that though he spent his career at Johns Hopkins University before moving to Duke, he's always made frequent trips "home."

He has deep family roots here. He's Lutheran. He paddles in the Boundary Waters. He skis in the Mora Vasaloppet. He eats hotdish.

That's a lot of Minnesota in a résumé.

The money issue is tougher.

He will spend considerable time in Minnesota in July to find out if he can attract the sort of financial support that would make a Senate race possible.

"I have to be realistic," he said. "This is not about tilting at windmills."

Agre was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2003. (He and his colleagues discovered microscopic channels involved in the exchange of water among cells.)

At the time, he vowed that he would become more of a public spokesman for science. He has made good on his pledge, traveling all over the world to speak to science organizations. He's also traveled back to Roosevelt High, where, a couple of years ago, he passed his Nobel medal around a room filled with kids who were amazed at the humility of the man who talked with, not down to, them.

But there is this simple fact: There are no Nobel winners in the Senate. That's because the Senate has become a club for the wealthy or for anyone with a lifelong driving ambition to be a senator.

Let's see:

Show me the money!

In this world, one thing counts, in the bank, large amounts.

or is it:

Money is the root of all evil.

In a state that elected Paul Wellstone anything is possible. If Ciresi and Franken are really interested in retiring Senator BlowDry perhaps they should throw their support and dollars to Peter Agre. The thought of Senator BlowDry staying in office because Al Franken ran is too terrible to contemplate.

Ciao, Bonzo